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  • Author or Editor: Harriet Churchill x
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This chapter examines the coalition government’s initial programme and subsequent policy developments with regard to children and young people. It highlights the following aspects of policy change and reform: reductions in cash support for children, young people and families; the reframing of child poverty in terms of the Conservative’s ‘five pathways to poverty’ thesis, the Liberal Democrats’ social mobility agenda and early intervention developments; and child protection and children’s social care reforms. It points out changes and continuities in social policies for children and young people under the coalition government. While the coalition introduced some new targeted support measures such as the Pupil Premium, early intervention funding, youth crime prevention measures and 2014 Children and Families Act reforms to promote social mobility and ‘protecting the vulnerable’, in many respects the coalition years were detrimental to children and young people, reducing their access to welfare state support and increasing socio-economic vulnerabilities.

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This chapter reviews recent developments in family support policies, entitlements and services in the first 18 months of the UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government in the UK. In light of the major developments in family support and children’s services under the former Labour Government the chapter sets out three aspects of recent policy change: reductions in family support; a move away from principles of ‘progressive universalism’ to refocusing on targeted support and interventions for ‘dysfunctional and disadvantaged families’ and ‘the most disadvantaged children and young people’; and a new era of welfare state restructuring. While recognising the incremental nature of some policy changes, the chapter raises social justice and welfare concerns about the retreat in state support for families, children and young people which is accompanied by evermore emphasis on family responsibilities for children and childhood disadvantage.

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Analysing social policy and lived experiences

This timely book examines parental rights to ‘welfare state support’ and parental responsibilities for child welfare in relation to recent social policy agendas pursued by the Labour government in the UK in the context of child well-being research, state welfare analysis and sociological research about parental perspectives and the multiple contexts of parenting and childhood. It calls for notions of parental rights and responsibilities which are more responsive to the diversity of parental perspectives and parenting contexts. The book is valuable reading for students, researchers and practitioners in social policy and child and family services.

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This chapter considers political perspectives on the aims and objectives of the welfare state, social citizenship, and the respective responsibilities of parents, families, and the state for children. The chapter additionally considers international trends in social policy and debates about Third Way policy convergence. Leaning towards qualitative research and grounded theorising, situated family-practices research highlights the diversity and complexity of family practices in the past and present.

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This chapter considers notions of ‘child, family and social well-being’ and sets out the social values and analytical approach informing the book. It argues for a combined analysis of child, adult, family, and social well-being which draws on quantitative and qualitative social research to inform social policy agendas and critical debates about parental rights and responsibilities. Adults and children experience more changes in family and living arrangements, with a higher incidence of solo living, parental separation, remarriage, re-partnering, and step-families.

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This chapter reviews social trends and research debates. In recent years, social policy debates have been dominated by the economic crisis in the global financial system and how to minimalize economic recession. Further, politicians and the media often point to the social risks and fragmentation created by ‘family and social breakdown’. There are social differences and much inequality between ethnic groups. Disadvantages arising from direct and indirect forms of racism are compounded by other sources of disadvantage such as those based on migrant and citizenship status, social class, gender, disability, or social class.

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This chapter examines the ‘politics of parental rights and responsibilities’. Social policies are ‘rarely rational comprehensive’ responses to social needs and problems. Rather, they promote social and political values about the respective social roles and responsibilities of parents, families, young people and the state. The chapter draws on typologies of policy regimes and debates about the internationalisation of social and family policy. Social democratic welfare states remain bound by the imperatives of economic growth and performance, and maintaining social order. The social economic agenda relied on the logic of economic growth and full male employment.

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This chapter examines key aspects of welfare reform. Macro-economic and social security policies are highly centralised in the UK, with the devolved Scottish, Northern Ireland, and Welsh administrations constrained in respect of independent policy directions. This chapter demonstrates that Labour’s reforms contributed to significant increases in employment rates among some groups and a reduction in child poverty. However, in relation to the scale of the problems of poverty, labour market exclusion, employment disadvantage, and social inequalities, Labour’s approach was limited. Crucially, limited welfare and equal rights in the UK continue to place families, adults, and children at risk of poverty and employment disadvantage.

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This chapter reviews developments in childcare and family-friendly employment policies. Policy discourses distinguish between parental, informal, and formal childcare, different types of formal services, and different sectors. The broader term of ‘work-life balance’ policies is often used interchangeably with family-friendly employment, and encompasses a broader perspective about work-life balance entitlements (potentially for all citizens). For the purposes of this chapter, however, the focus is on changes to parental rights. In contrast to childcare policy, employment is not a devolved area of policy, placing constraints on alternative policy directions in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

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This chapter examines developments in parental and family support services from 1997 to 2010. Informal family support refers to the multiple ways people care for one another and provide support for family roles. Informal social support within families and social networks builds social bonds and capital and is associated with practical and emotional support for parents and parental and child well-being, particularly maternal mental health. This chapter focuses on better support and services for parents, strengthening marriage, and improving support for serious family problems.

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